With Open Hands: Part 1
A few years ago I was in a book study with a few people who read the book “With Open Hands” by Henri Nouwen. I was a new mom at the time with my first son about 15 months old. He was at that “separation anxiety” stage where he clung to me every time the threat of me leaving him arose. When I started the book it was a confusing time for me with this baby boy of mine needing me so much on a daily basis, yet I was learning about having “open hands”. This normal developmental stage of course eventually passed, but while we were “in it” life was a day to day trial and error experiment of how much to let go & how much to let him cling to me.
I’m sure some of you relate to this idea of attempting to strike a balance between learning to let go & keeping loved ones close. It’s not an easy task, that I think I will struggle with possibly for my entire life, especially in regards to my little ones.
Bringing hope to everyday lives!
With Open Hands: Part 1
Have you ever had a season in your life (either long or short lived) when you felt like you just could not make sense of the world around you? Like everything swirling around you was just too big to grasp? Maybe you have heard a bit of bad news & then more follows. Or you get a good report at the doctor only to be followed by something else going awry a few weeks later. It could even be as simple as not understanding why your heart feels the way it does & why it hurts so badly.
A few weeks ago we returned from the May 2012 retreat in Orlando, Florida. This was a special retreat for me because it was the first time I was able to invite a family I knew personally to come on a retreat & see them be cared for & enjoy a few days together outside of their normal routine fighting cancer. Amy & Adam Patwa, & their adorable daughter Charis, attended this retreat and blessed me & so many others with their transparency & hope in the midst of a life-threatening illness. Something really amazing happens on these retreats. Staff & volunteers love families. Families love each other. Everyone ends up serving each other in some way, shape, or form... maybe without even realizing their impact.
Today it is rainy outside. Here in North Carolina the pollen has finally subsided and the trees are full of green leaves. We are in the midst of spring. I was just sitting at my kitchen table with my young boys watching them eat their breakfast. They are ravenous as soon as they wake! My 3 year old asked me why it was raining. (He is in the "why" everything stage!) Over the past six months I have been reading a book that I cannot seem to put down. Clearly it is teaching me old truths with new perspective that are enticing. So trying to put together some logical answer for why indeed it was raining outside, while still trying to wake up at this early hour, all I could come up with was this: "honey, God lets it rain so that things around us can be more beautiful". You know what followed that... "but why mommy?" I smiled.
Why does it rain in our lives? Sometimes it just sprinkles. We find out news that could lead to worse news. Sometimes it pours. We feel like the whole world is beginning to fall apart around us. Sometimes it floods. We feel like we may drown in it all.
I've noticed something about myself over the past few years since I've become a mom. I view traditions in my family in many different ways than I used to, especially ones around holidays of special significance for us. It's like I view them through my kid's lens instead of my own now! When we got married we started decorating our house in little ways that signified our new family unit. We did things like decorate our mantle above the fireplace for Christmas. I bought a journal to record "firsts"... first 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. We started forming our own traditions for what would soon become our growing family! A few weeks after our first son was born Easter arrived. I must admit, Easter is my favorite celebration of the calendar year! We live in North Carolina, so we are blessed with four very distinct seasons for the most part, this year being quite an exception. I love Easter because the leaves are growing back on the trees, the flowers are in full bloom, there is more daylight emerging everyday, birds chirp, bees buzz, & most of all I get to share my Hope with my kids as I share the story of Easter! It's a JOYOUS time for us, even in the midst of the unpredictabilities life brings. I am always reminded of the simple things, small & big, this time of year. I then grow very thankful.
What is your favorite holiday?
What comes to mind for you when you think of that time each year?
What traditions do you have as a family?
As a parent, one of the many questions we have in life regarding parenting stems from a desire to care for our kids from a far. If that means while we are out of town, if we are dropping them off at camp or college, if we have a life-threatening illness that could cause death before we would wish, or simply when we take them to a friends house to play. Although these are a wide variety of circumstances... the same thing applies: we will inevitably be apart from our kids at many point in our lives, some temporary & some permanent.
We are just a few days away from Valentine's Day, the holiday of LOVE. When I think of parents & kids... I think "Love is Listening". Many of you just returned home from the latest retreat in Orlando. Some of you have attended past retreats. Some are only passing through on the website & stumbled upon this post just now. Whatever category you fall into, you clicked on this most likely because you are home, back in the reality of your daily routines... & want to know how to live life fully in the midst of your circumstances & enjoy each moment. You want to know how to best love & care for your kids (and each other for that matter).